Introducing Your Puppy To The Leash and Collar
It’s funny but many dog owners do not think about leash training puppies. When I say leash training I am not talking about teaching your dog to heel but merely excepting being on a leash and not panicking. Sometimes we have to think of things from our dog’s point of new, imagine one day somebody while you were not looking tied a rope to your foot. I can imagine your reaction would be that of most, first you would be confused why it’s on you, you would try to get it off you and it would generally stress you out. Dogs or puppies who have never been on a leash before go through this same reaction, the moment the feel confinement their instinct is to get away by pulling or biting at the leash.
So what is the solution, besides just forcing the puppy or dog to accept the leash, how can we make the transition to being on leash easier and less stressful on the dog?
Although there are many ways to accomplish this I find allowing the dog to learn on his or her is a much easier and less stressful. When I am raising a puppy and come to this I first purchase a flat nylon collar that can be adjusted to be lose on my puppies head. Then I find an old leash that I may not care if it’s crewed on or gets dirty if you do not have an old leash you can use a 6ft piece of rope. Now that I have my collar and leash I simply put the collar on the puppy with the leash attached and let the dog be free without holding onto the leash. It’s important to know that never is the puppy left alone while dragging around the leash for safety reasons. Now if you are sitting there scratching your head thinking that I really have not done anything besides put a leash on my dog and let him drag it around, remember what I said in the beginning, it’s important to think from a dogs point of view. While it may seem that the dog dragging its leash around is not teaching him or her anything, in fact, it’s allowing the dog to understand the relationship with the leash and building an acceptance of it.
Often in dog training, we learn that if a dog can learn something whether good or bad on their own then they seem to learn it quicker and without holding resentment towards their handler. Here we see the same thing in regards to the puppy dragging the leash around, while the puppy is going about doing his puppy things, he is constantly stepping on his leash, feeling its weight and even sometimes getting it momentarily caught on things. While it may not seem like it to you and me, all those things are helping the puppy accept and understand the leash and without us having to do anything besides watch. Now it’s time to teach the puppy that it is ok for us to lead them around on the leash, but before we try to go for a walk it’s important to have some treats with us.
Although we are still not teaching the puppy the formal heal command but merely how to walk and accept the leash, it’s important to be able to reward them for particular behaviors. With your puppy on leash on a nylon collar, gently take them for a slow walk around your house or yard. At first, go with your puppy in the direction they wish to go, this allows them to accept you holding the leash and gets comfortable with it. After a couple minutes of this, slowly tighten up on the leash allowing your puppy to pull against it. If your puppy stops and looks at you or merely stops, then treat them and praise them for not fighting the leash. Continue walking your puppy around and feeding them for not pulling on the leash and once they have accepted the leash around your house and yard try taking them to other locations till you fill they are comfortable with having a leash on.
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